Thursday, March 29, 2012

reason no. 928 why i love thoughtworks

thoughtworks constantly strives to improve itself. the neat thing is that improvement here is not measured by an rising bottom line, nor by growth in numbers or mentions in the news. it's not driven by external factors of what someone else expects from our company. the desire to improve comes from within.

we thoughtworkers are our own foremost and only true stakeholders. if someone within this company feels that we are not focusing enough efforts on bringing women and minorities in, they are free and they are encouraged to scrutinize our current approach, regardless of what role or grade they are. they have the forum to create the initiative to bring awareness to the issue and to gather a group to pioneer the change they want to see. if we retroactively realize we've hired somebody who breaches our values or blatantly exploits our "do-what-you-want-during-beach-time, we-trust-it's-something-good-and-or-productive" policy, we exit them immediately no matter how much of a technical hotshot they are. if we think opening an office in a developing country is necessary to the global impact we strive to make, we take that risk, make that expense, and we put our honest and good effort behind it to make it happen. we trust that the investment we make in the people who we think will make our company better will prove out.

sure, not every initiative or proposal for improvement goes through. sometimes they never even take off. other times, they do, only to fall flat. it ain't easy to introduce change across a company of 1,800 people distributed across 22 cities around the globe. it's sometimes even harder when all of those individuals are strong-minded and do not and will not see themselves in a hierarchy. but the importance is not necessarily in how much we grow; it's that the internal fire within the company that still burns brightly, the one that fuels new ideas and suggestions, the one that says we can do better, and here's how, now let's make it happen. we're open to what the world might expect of us, but ultimately, thoughtworks is very much its own driver for success and for change, and i think that's what keeps us unique and what makes us leaders in the spaces we inhibit. we are breaking out of the mold of numbers-driven improvement and instead are comfortably wandering around in the world of emotional, moral, common-sense-based improvement. the fact that we motivate ourselves from within to constantly become a better company is reason #928 why i love thoughtworks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

a normal week

two posts in a day! a day with one less hour than normal, even.

guess what? it's sunday night and i am not at the airport!

rather, i am in my apartment, sitting on the couch under a comfy leopard-print blanket and listening to my spawn-of-the-devil cat snore in the background. aaaand here's the proof:

thumbs up for NOT sleeping in a hotel room tonight!

i've just wrapped up my first whole week in chicago in my apartment here. the last time i had one of these was during the transition between my calgary and plano projects, which occurred in may of last year, when i was living in a completely different apartment and neighborhood.

suffice it to say, i've loved being local so far. it is everything i had imagined it to be and so much more - bonding with my roommates, cooking meals, exploring chicago, sleeping in hector (my glorious bed), hearing the 1-800-EMPIRE commercials - the works.

one of the first things i did when i found out i'd be in chicago for a while was sign up for a gym membership. a miracle had happened in texas: i had somehow started on a relatively regular gym routine. i sure as heck wasn't going to let a change in location (literally) stop my momentum. the gymnasium i wound up signing up with is called xsport fitness, which is a very no-frills kind of place that sucks you in with its low membership dues compared to most other arm-and-a-leg-costing gyms in lakeview. i went four times this past week - once with a personal trainer where i died - and three other  normal times where i did my own thing. it's not a wonderful gym by any means - but it's not terribad either. i haven't made up my mind on whether or not i wanna stick with it or switch to another and say goodbye to my limbs.

i've also been on a shopping BINGE. i think the springtime weather has been doing funny things to my brain, because this impulse in me has just been screaming OH MY GOSH IT'S SPRING I LOVE IT I AM GOING TO BUY PINK PANTS! and blocking out the small voice at the back of my head has been like "... you know you're in Chicago, right? It's probably going to snow next week." so yes, i bought pink pants this weekend. and i also have been finding that living within a block of pier 1 has been very, very dangerous, but so far i haven't caved beyond buying a pair of candle plates (they were on sale, goddamnit!).

one last thing i've been up to lately is getting back in touch with my ahrtsy fahrtsy side. this morning becca came over and we had crafts time. we drew cool pictures with charcoal while kitty watched enviously and wished she had opposable thumbs.

i've also been making some progress on my latest painting project, which has been taking me forever because the medium, oil, has to take its sweet-ass time to dry before i can apply another layer. i've also been having a crisis with the grass (notice the big green grass blob? that was me having a fuck it, we'll do it live moment with my paint brush and then immediately regretting it. good thing oils are forgiving in that you can just paint over everything ever). damn you, grass. why you gotta be like that.

this is how it looks after the fourth layer. i reckon it'll be another five or six before i can wrangle it into what i want it to be. the thought of painting the leaves is sort of terrifying to me. maybe i will paint with a glass of wine handy for some liquid courage.

...on second thought, after remember yesterday's episode involving spilt linseed oil EVERYWHERE, maybe not.

appity doodads

i did something stupid yesterday.

in an attempt to fix a bug that seemed to have planted itself in my EVO after a current software update, i accidentally wiped my whole phone. no mo' settings, personalizations, contacts, apps, saved texts, etc for this goober. nada.

(now this might not seem like a big deal for normal people, but for me it was a catastrophe. i use my EVO religiously. it is literally with me 24/7. i have panic attacks if my fingers can't find it on or within close proximity of my body. seeing my old friend in its lobotomized, empty state - ugly black wallpaper, annoying vibrations on touch, empty contacts list - was gutwrenchingly, soulcrushingly, heartbreakingly terribad.)

after i finished mourning my loss, i decided to pick up the pieces of my life and begin the slow reimport/recustomization process. along the way i found the silver lining of my traumatic deletion: in addition to erasing my phone's beloved features, i had also inadvertently wiped it of its unnecessary, taking-up-space, good-for-nothing apps. and boy were there some of those.

here are the apps that made the cut and those that i decided didn't deserve the disk space on my precious:

the losers:

pandora internet radio
bar code scanner
where's my droid?
adobe reader

it's not that i didn't like these apps. it's that i never touched them. i downloaded them from the android market thinking they were pretty neat, and then they just sat on my phone, wasting space and collecting e-dust. spades, however, was the exception; i played this game a ton, despite the fact that my AI partner, "don", had rocks for brains and once famously bid nil with seven spades. seven. i mean, who does that?

but i digress. i found something better (see below) and in light of my self-imposed one-game-at-a-time-on-my-phone rule, i regretfully did not re-download spades. goodbye, don and your seven spades.

the winners:

transit tracker
i would literally be lost without this app. like its name implies, transit tracker tells you how long it takes for bus or train to arrive at any CTA station or stop. immensely quick, reliable, and easy to use. i love that you can save routes too - it makes commuting in Chicago so much more pleasant. whoever designed it obviously was used to living in a city!

dominion, with all the expansions, in whatever combinations you'd like. on your phone. free. eurgakdghadg goodbye productivity, nice knowing ya. if you've never played dominion before, this app would probably be a bit confusing, but my god, if you have, it's a darn great way to play the game against AI characters. i'm torn between telling you to DOWNLOAD THIS APP IMMEDIATELY and STAY AWAY FROM THIS APP IF YOU VALUE YOUR FREE TIME. lately i've been limiting myself to playing it only when i'm on a bike at the gym. and i've actually been looking forward to going to the gym. that should indicate what a miracle-worker this app has been for me.

push ups
this little doodad is wonderful. i've been using it for the better part of six or so months and have been slowly but surely increasing the number of pushups i do at the gym. the pacing is good and the app is quick and simple. i love simple. i also love that you can listen to music without any interference.

handy for grocery lists, to-dos, and keeping passwords or login information that you need on-the-go. the lock feature is pretty darn nifty, and the different colors are definitely useful for OCD sticky-iers like me. i hear evernote is also good, but am beyond content with colornote.

other apps that i redownloaded which require no explanation:

google maps

so there you go, these are some of my favorite things. oh, and did i mention they are all free? i love android.